Striking a Chord

At a tender age, Judy Blue Eyes dropped piano for guitar

I can still remember the day it happened. It was a sunny Friday afternoon in 1954. I was casually listening to the radio when Jo Stafford's rendition of Barbara Allen, a 17th century English ballad, came over the airwaves. It was the first folk song I had ever heard. At the time, I was a 14-year-old living in Denver with my parents and four younger siblings and preparing to perform Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with a local orchestra.

But the poignancy of Stafford's music about a woman's remorse over her lover's death changed everything. Its message was so potent; it overpowered...

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